The Champion

January/February 2003 , Page 56 

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Gideon at 40: A Realistic View

By Lawrence S. Goldman

Read more President's Column columns.

Most of the writers who precede me in this issue bemoan the abandonment of the promise of Gideon. They call for a renewed effort to meet its goal of an adequate defense in criminal cases for all accused. I join in those sentiments. I do, however, believe we must be realistic. I am pessimistic about the likelihood of our political leaders ever on their own accord providing adequate funding for indigent defense. The spirit of the 60s is gone. We no longer have a John F. Kennedy or an Earl Warren.

The gap between the very rich and the very poor in America has widened. The standard political stance is to lower taxes and cut government spending. Most citizens will not accept fewer police officers, fewer garbage pickups and fewer street repairs. Accordingly, the cuts come largely off the backs of the poor.

To be sure, our nation recognizes, or at least gives lip service to, notions of equality. “One man, one vote” is an axiom of our political system, and any political leader who would speak ag

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